Vitamins, the essentials of health, and the basis of a multi-million dollar industry. The increasing debate around whether supplemental vitamins are essential to health is heated. One side attests that we can garner all the nutrients necessary from food and fortified processed food. The opposite belief insists that processing of the food we eat strips nutrients and a very select few are fortified. Also, the soil where food is grown may be depleted allowing less nutrition to be absorbed into the foods we eat. High-stress lifestyles and environmental pollution create a greater need for nutrients which food alone may not be sufficient to fill. These unique changes have placed greater demands on our nutrient stores to keep us functioning at an optimal level. Enter the multi-vitamin, touted as a form of nutritional insurance against vitamin deficiency.
But is it really?
There are some people who can definitely benefit from a multi-vitamin. Celiac disease or other malabsorption diseases can cause nutrients to be prevented from entering your body from food. In these cases, all nutrients might be low and having a broad range of supplemental vitamins and minerals could be beneficial. For those who need it, multi vitamins are best taken with food and at low doses over the course of the day (just like nutrients in food would be). However, most people don’t fall into this malabsorption category. In fact, when it comes to nutrient status, most of us have more than enough of the majority of our nutrients, but are lacking in only a handful. Therefore, supplementing with specific nutrients can optimise health without burdening the body with excess nutrients.
- Vitamin C – this vitamin is needed for healing, your immune system and even the health of your skin. In oral doses, it acts as an antioxidant against free radicals. Because it is water soluble any excess will be excreted in urine. Taking extra vitamin C can protect against colds, allergy symptoms, can be preventative against cancer and help pain relieving medications work better. Your body can only absorb so much at one time through the gut so taking smaller amounts (500 mg at a time) frequently works best. If you need a higher dose it can be administered by one of our naturopathic doctors via an IV to avoid irritating your digestion and can be extremely effective in reducing allergy symptoms quickly.
- Vitamin D – in northern climates it is hard to get this vitamin as it is created in the body by sunshine on the skin. Consider supplementing in the winter or if you rarely get out in the open air with exposed skin. Speak to one of our naturopathic doctors about what is the right dose for you because getting too much Vitamin D can actually be toxic to your system. It’s important that the vitamins you take work for your individual needs.
- Fish Oil – essential fatty acids create cell membranes that maintain their integrity. Consuming these high quality fats improves brain function, creates healthy resilient skin and sets the body up for good weight management. If you can’t eat three servings of high omega-3 fish (cold water fish are the best sources) each week, a supplement is an easy way to get your daily allotment of healthy omega fats. What you do need to know is that balance is integral when it comes to fish oils. Most of us consume more than enough omega-6’s in our day-to-day lives, so we want to get a high-quality supplement with lots of omega-3’s. For someone with a brain injury higher then normal doses of this supplement can assist in brain recovery, along a few other key components. Make an appointment with Dr. Ben Connolly or Dr. Ashley Margeson if you think that you might need a higher then normal dose.
- B Complex Vitamins – are water soluble and if they aren’t used they will be eliminated from the body. One of the best ways to get your daily intake of B Vitamins is through foods rich in these nutrients. They’re essential to break down food, absorb nutrients, create energy and even manage your mood. If you are feeling tired or sluggish, a few extra B’s could be beneficial to your needs. Vitamin B12 can give a especially potent boost, though it is best absorbed by injection. Want to try it out? Book a 15 minute appointment and fill out our injection waiver to see what a B12 shot can do for you.
- Magnesium – is a mineral that works together with calcium to make muscles move. Calcium motivates the contraction of muscles while magnesium plays a role in relaxing of muscles. Refined foods and sugar encourage magnesium to leave the body in urine, so avoiding processed foods is a must to keep magnesium stores high. Eating whole foods like nuts, spinach, legumes and fish can ensure you get enough magnesium. Supplementing can fill the gap or if you are dealing with cramped muscles causing pain, a visit to Cornerstone Naturopathic for a magnesium injection or IV can be helpful.
If you are wondering about what nutrients you may need supplemented, why not call us and book a wellness exam with one of our naturopathic doctors?